Plant Society (Hardie Grant, 2018) by Jason Chongue is an essential guide to bringing plants into your home, using them to decorate, and most importantly, keeping them alive. Chongue covers everything you need to know to be sure that you best incorporate plants into your home and lifestyle. The following excerpt is his guide to having both plants and pets in your home.
Introducing plants around pets should be done with caution. Dogs and cats love to scratch and chew plants, which is upsetting for you, stressful for your plants and potentially toxic to your pets.
Our house was surrounded by concrete when we first moved in (the previous owner had sealed over the garden beds) and the only living thing was a cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) in a vintage concrete pot. As soon as the first stage of renovations was over, we introduced some indoor plants. About the same time, we had adopted Ingrid, our rescue pup. One day, I was far too trusting and left her in the house while I was at work. When I returned, she had torn up the house, including my beloved plants! Thankfully they weren’t toxic and I managed to save the trunks and replant them. Today, they are thriving again, and through some training, Ingrid knows not to chomp on them.
Many pets will become less interested in plants as they get older, but initially a little help is required to ensure they do not see your plants as toys. I leave Ingrid with a wide range of dog toys when she stays at home alone. This provides mental stimulation and teaches her to associate play with toys, not plants.
Some plants are harmful to your pets, so it’s important to always check if a plant is safe around animals. Your local animal welfare association will have a list of non-toxic plants.
If you do have pets, good plants to add to your home include the radiator plant (Peperomia), prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura), African violet (Saintpaulia), zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), areca palm (Dypsis lutescens), aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei) and lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus humilis), but it’s best to do your own research before introducing any houseplants to make sure they are safe for your pets.